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With: Scott Lunsford, Jim Verraros, Emily Stiles, Ryan Carnes
Written by: Q. Allan Brocka
Directed by: Q. Allan Brocka
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 85
Date: 03/18/2013

Eating Out (2005)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Undercooked and Overwritten

By Rob Blackwelder, SPLICEDwire

Conspicuously overwritten in cutesy "homo-lingo" that is spouted non-stop by palpably self-conscious actors, Eating Out is the kind of my-first-movie festival-circuit comedy that might have passed muster 10 years ago when good gay cinema was harder to come by. But today it feels like a wannabe Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss -- without the wit and clever mock-melodrama stylishness.

The plot: Hunky, supposedly straight smooth-boy Caleb (Scott Lunsford) pretends to be gay to get next to neurotic queen-magnet Gwen (Emily Stiles) by dating her promiscuous best friend and roommate Marc (pouty Ryan Carnes from "Desperate Housewives"), who is genuinely admired from afar by Caleb's own roommate, the less handsome and insecurely boy-crazy Kyle (ex-"American Idol" contestant Jim Verraros). Complications arise within the foursome's friendships when things don't go quite as planned.

The turning point is the movie's only scene that, while improbable, doesn't feel entirely staged: a steamy threesome with Marc and Caleb (much to his surprise) writhing on a couch while Gwen joins in by phone.

But the fact that this set-up quickly degenerates into predictable, ridiculously convenient and campy contrivances is less of a problem than the largely hesitant, ineffectual performances (Lunsford makes an unconvincing hetero) and the desperate-to-be-quotable dialogue.

Here's a partial sampling of just one character's lines in just one three-minute scene: "Heterosexuals are a f---d up species." "Guys around here are like day-old donuts. I eat them because they're there, but I don't want to invest anything in them." "You know how chicks get naked in front of puppies? We're just puppies with d--ks." "Look, let's get a few things straight here. Being gay is more than listening to good music and eating low-fat foods."

You get the idea. Had such lines been delivered by better (or at least better-rehearsed) actors who could make them feel like naturally wry conversation, Eating Out might have been more amusing despite the low-budget amateur theatricality of writer-director Q. Allan Brocka (known in gay film circles for the "Rick & Steve" short comedies). But as is, the movie has all the authenticity of a novice drag queen.

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